Is Mazda reliable? An unbiased look at the brand

Just how reliable is Mazda? In this article we look at the models it manufactures

  • Is Mazda reliable?
  • What are the most reliable Mazdas?
  • What are the least reliable Mazdas?
  • What are the most common Mazda problems?
  • How reliable is the Mazda2?
  • Is the Mazda CX-5 reliable?
  • Is the Mazda6 reliable?
  • How reliable is the Mazda MX-5?

Originally a cork manufacturer (founded in 1920), in 1931, the company, then called Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd, launched a tricycle truck that they called the Mazda-go.

The company rebranded officially in 1984, calling themselves Mazda after the god of harmony, intelligence and wisdom. It was also felt that the name closely resembled that of Jujiro Matsuda who was president of the company when the Mazda-go was designed and produced.

In 2020, Mazda was the 22nd largest producer of vehicles worldwide, selling 1.42million vehicles globally between May 2019 and April 2020.

While Mazda’s largest market is the US, in 2019, the manufacturer sold over 250,000 vehicles in Europe (including the UK).

Japanese car manufacturers are well known for producing dependable and reliable vehicles, so is Mazda on that list?

If you’re thinking about a new car, should you be looking at Mazda?

Is Mazda reliable?

Mazda has always had a reputation for manufacturing reliable vehicles. So, the short answer is yes, Mazda is very reliable.

In 2019, MotorEasy placed Mazda 19th in their dependability ratings. This score should be reviewed in comparison with others as it only looks at how many vehicles required repair, no matter the severity or the length of time the vehicle was off the road, something that other reliability ratings and consumer reports have taken into account.

According to other indices, Mazda is actually one of the top manufacturers when it comes to reliability. On the ReliabilityIndex charts (produced using data from Warranty Direct), Mazda has a very impressive score of 65.00, meaning it appears in 5th place on their chart. This places it with manufacturers like Lexus, Toyota, Honda and Suzuki at the top of their 40-strong list of vehicle manufacturers.

Though there are a few areas where Mazda could do with improving, as we have mentioned in other reliability reports, the scores awarded by ReliabilityIndex vary so widely. A perfect example is the company’s placement on the ‘braking system’ chart. Mazda performs incredibly well yet with 14.49% of owners having reported an issue with the braking system, the company ends up 39th on the chart. However, all manufacturers have earned a very low reporting score for issues with the braking system. So while saying 39th could be seen as is concerning, saying 14.49% is much less so.

Mazda CX-30

So, how well does Mazda actually perform? According to the various issues measured by ReliabilityIndex, the brand is impressive. When looking at everything from non-engine electrical issues to transmission, the number of faults reported are minimal, ranging from 1.79% (transmission) to 16.82% (engine). Unfortunately, there is one area where Mazda falls down and that is with the axle and suspension. ReliabilityIndex reported that over 40% of vehicles that required repair in the 12 months leading up to their latest (2020) report, required repair to the axle or suspension. This placed Mazda in 38th place for that element of the vehicle.

Other good things about Mazda and their vehicles, according to ReliabilityIndex, include the average time vehicles spent off the road for basic repairs, which was just 1 hour and 55 minutes (incredibly impressive), and relatively low repair costs at just £332.41 being charged on average when something more serious went wrong. The fact that repair costs aren’t incredibly costly will come as a relief to anyone who is thinking about their bank balance when something goes wrong with their Mazda.

Quite often there will be huge differences in the reports from ReliabilityIndex and Which?, this time the story is incredibly similar, with Mazda being awarded an incredible 5 stars out of 5 for new models (up to 3 years old) and a, still-impressive, 4 stars out of 5 for vehicles that are between 3 and 8 years of age.

Mazda CX-4

Which? Refers to Mazda as one of the most reliable manufacturers that they reviewed this year, with just over 1 in 5, or 21%, or owners reporting that in the 12 months before participating in the survey, they had to take their vehicle in to get anything repaired. As well as having a relatively low overall fault rate, the number of vehicles that couldn’t be driven due to a fault requiring immediate repair was also low at just 1.4%, less than half of the average across all manufacturers.

Though they were awarded the top 5 stars for reliability, this doesn’t mean that they were without faults, but the ones that owners reported experiencing were related to non-engine electrical items such as the windows, sunroof and mirrors. These faults didn’t appear often enough for them to be consistently reported as a serious issue with the vehicles.

As with everything from computers to the human body, the older Mazdas get, the more issues they encounter. Just under 50% of Mazda owners who participated in the consumer survey reported that they experienced issues with their cars, this is much higher than the 36% average.

However, as with BMW and Audi, this figure was boosted by a manufacturer recall due to a fault that Mazda discovered with the Engine Control Unit (ECU). Though this elicited a recall, 98% of the vehicles taken for repair by their owners were not actually experiencing any issues connected to the ECU.

Once you remove the recall statistic, as this was inflated by the number of people who responded somewhat unnecessarily, the breakdown rate for older model Mazda vehicles (3-8 years) is almost 50% lower than the average for the majority of manufacturers reviewed (4.6%) at an impressively low 2.5%. Not only that, but the time these Mazda’s spent off the road when vehicles did require complex repair was just two days, on average.

Though the recall could have been detrimental to Mazda’s reliability scores, the fact that the company acted on it incredibly quickly worked in their favour.

What are the most reliable Mazdas?

Though you only need to read the above to discover that Mazda is an incredibly reliable manufacturer, some models do perform much better than others. It was difficult to determine which were the most reliable until the data was looked at more carefully and the results reflected the charts on Which? and ReliabilityIndex.

  • Mazda MX-5
  • Mazda2
  • Mazda3

What are the least reliable Mazdas?

This was harder to narrow down than the most reliable models, if only because they all performed very well. However, there were a few that weren’t as good as the ones listed above. We will go into more detail about some later in this article. So, the least reliable Mazda models are:

  • Mazda6 Tourer
  • Mazda CX-7
  • Mazda RX-9

What are the most common Mazda problems?

The more you look into specific manufacturers the more likely you are to find issues that occur regularly. With the Mazda the issues are less generic and more model-specific.

Mazda3

If you’re driving along over speed bumps or potholes and notice a rattling noise, it’s possible this is caused by a loose or faulty rear brake light mounting. To fix it you will need to get the mounting replaced.

Mazda2

The high pressure fuel pipe may end up damaged due to contact with other components. Though this sounds serious it needs to be stressed that it only affected Mazda2 models built over a 6 week period in 2018.

Mazda6

We will be going into more detail regarding the Mazda6 and the Mazda6 Tourer later in this article. However, below you will see some of the reasons why this is a model that appears on the least reliable Mazda list.

The Diesel Particulate Filter is a component that needs to be warmed up in order to work properly. If you’re someone who takes more short trips, to the shops or on the school-run then it’s possible the filter will get clogged up, causing damage which will mean the filter requires replacing.

If you hear a clicking sound when going over speed bumps or potholes then, unlike the Mazda3 rattling noise, this is often related to an issue with the front suspension drop links. Unfortunately, they cannot be repaired, they will need to be replaced by a mechanic.

Every Mazda comes with a Tyre Monitoring System, which is essentially a sensor installed in the tyre valve that reports issues via a light on the dashboard. These sensors can wear out. If the sensor light on your dashboard is on constantly, it’s advisable to check for rust and damage. Any faulty parts will need to be replaced.

If you hear a creaking noise coming from your seats when driving then it’s possible that the bolts that hold the seats in place have come loose. It sounds serious, but the fix is easy, remove the seats and tighten the bolts.

The electric windows can fail on the Mazda6 for several reasons; the battery can be faulty and fail to provide power to the windows. This isn’t the only reason why the electric windows may fail though, it could also be attributed to the system needing a reset. If your windows open while your doors are locked then a reset can be the quick fix. If this doesn’t work then you will need to take the car to a mechanic to sort out.

Mazda MX-5

If you purchased your MX-5 between 1991 and 2006 then your electric roof will be a soft-top. The first-generation model can sometimes experience blocked drains which then cause a water build-up that can give the interior a damp smell. This can be easily fixed by a mechanic familiar with convertible/cabriolet vehicles.

If you have a third-generation MX-5 or above, released after 2006 then, chances are, you have a hardtop convertible. This one can have issues with the deck link unit which is at the rear of the roof system. If you have this problem then it is just a case of getting the faulty component replaced.

How reliable is the Mazda2?

The Mazda2, a smart and stylish supermini that has the reputation of being incredibly reliable.

In 2017, it was awarded a very impressive and incredibly low score of 22 by ReliabilityIndex. Move on and it appears that the Mazda2 has grown even more reliable, having been awarded an even lower score of just 20.

ReliabilityIndex takes a lot of factors into consideration when it looks at the dependability scores of the vehicles on its list, including the cost of repairs, the amount of time that vehicles are off the road when repairs are required and the number of issues reported in comparison with the total number of vehicles they have on their books matching that particular model.

In the 2020 ReliabilityIndex survey, the Mazda2 has again, as previously mentioned, performed incredibly well. With a reliability score of just 20, it is the second most reliable Mazda on Warranty Direct’s books. If you’re looking for a dependable supermini with low repair costs that won’t be off the road for weeks when it is in need of repair, then this is the vehicle to choose.

With average repair costs at an average of £200.13 and an average time off the road of 1 hour and 40 minutes, it’s the sort of vehicle that you wouldn’t be without for too long if something went wrong, and it also won’t break the bank.

There are a few things that can go wrong with the Mazda, including the fuel system, which 26.32% of all repairs were connected to. Non-engine electrical problems were something else that was reported by 21.05% of Mazda2 owners. However, the biggest issue reported was with the axle and suspension. A total of 31.58% of owners who had to get their vehicles repaired reported that their axle and suspension had been the problem. Of course, this is not surprising when you consider that this is the one fault that means the manufacturer doesn’t move higher up the ReliabilityIndex rank table.

Mazda2

Owners of the Mazda2 that participated in the Which? consumer survey for 2020 felt that the vehicle’s performance deserved a generous 4 stars out of 5 for both new and old models.  The vehicle is a safe prospect if you’re looking for something that isn’t going to break down on the motorway, isn’t going to cost a fortune to repair and is solidly reliable.

Only 12% of drivers reported that they experienced issues with their Mazda2 over the year up to the date they participated in the consumer survey, and out of those, only 1.2% actually experienced an issue serious enough to render the vehicle undrivable.

As with most vehicles, the Mazda2 becomes a little less reliable when it gets older. 31% of owners who participated in the survey reported that they had experienced issues with their vehicles in the 12 month run-up to completing the survey. Despite a larger number having had problems, only 1.3% of them had been forced to get their vehicles towed or taken to a garage because of a complete breakdown.

The most commonly reported faults from owners of the Mazda2 were with their seatbelts (5%) broken air conditioning (5%) or the axle and suspension (5%).

It is because of these incredibly impressive and positive results that the Mazda2 was awarded 4 stars for both new and older models.

If you’re still in doubt, the Mazda2 also appeared in the top 20 list of reliable small cars according to the 2020 data from WhatCar?.

Is the Mazda CX-5 reliable?

This compact crossover SUV from Mazda, is now in its second-generation, having first hit the market in 2012.

Petrol models are more reliable than diesel when it comes to the newer models (3 years old or younger), according to the Which? 2020 consumer report. Only 11% of petrol models, in comparison with 38% of diesel, experienced any faults over the 12 months preceding the report. However, none of these vehicles suffered a total breakdown. Even better, if you did have issues, then repairs don’t take very long, with the average for even more complicated repairs being just over a day.

Diesel models of the CX-5 had more issues than their petrol counterparts. 9% of owners complained that they had faults with the engine, specifically the Engine Monitoring Unit (EMU). There were also problems with non-engine electrics, with 7% of drivers saying that they had found it necessary to take their cars to a garage for repair.

Mazda CX-5

It is for this reason that the newer models received a mediocre 3 stars out of 5 and the older models (3-8 years) were awarded an even less impressive 2 stars for 2020.

We’re not sure what it means that the CX-5 didn’t appear on the ReliabilityIndex list for 2020, it could be that they didn’t have very much data on the vehicle. Reflecting the findings of Which?, the petrol CX-5 performs much better in their reliability report for 2020, with the model earning a reliability rating of 96.9%, which placed it 2nd on their Large SUV list. The diesel model didn’t make it onto the list.

Is the Mazda6 reliable?

The Mazda6 first appeared on the roster in 2002. A mid-sized vehicle that matches the manufacturer’s “stylish, insightful and spirited” philosophy, the third-generation model was launched in the UK in 2016.

There are two different models available under the Mazda6 name, the four door saloon and the slightly larger Tourer (Estate).

On ReliabilityIndex, the two models were grouped under one heading, with a reliability score of 60, which is an impressive enough score that it’s on their Top 100 for reliable vehicles of 2020 in 71st place.

According to ReliabilityIndex, the average repair costs for the Mazda6 are not the lowest when compared with other Mazdas, at £449.71. However, the price is also not the highest when considering saloons and tourers/estates from other manufacturers.

If you do find that you need to take your Mazda6 in for repair, whether it’s because it is experiencing a commonly reported issue or something different, you won’t be waiting long drinking bad coffee or wandering round nearby shops as the average time for simple repairs is just over two and a half hours.

As we have already mentioned, the Mazda6 is not without its issues and the number of instances reported in Warranty Direct’s data indicates this to be the truth. The largest problem area for Mazda6 owners is the engine, 33.73% of owners had to get components in the engine repaired. There were many problematic areas with a lower number of reported issues, with the next highest being non-engine electrical systems and the braking system with 16.87% each, followed by the axle and suspension with 14.46%.

Which? recorded data for the Mazda6 Saloon and Mazda6 Tourer separately, though neither of them fare as well as they did in the ReliabilityIndex report.

Mazda6 Saloon

The Mazda6 Saloon is definitely the more reliable of the two models in the range, though it is a story of reserver success. Newer models (0-3 years) have a higher number of reported issues, with 33% of owners reporting that they were affected by problems with non-engine electrics such as the auto-folding mirrors and electric windows. In fact, 10% of owners stated that they had problems with the mirrors that required mechanic intervention. This being said, there were no reported breakdowns. However, 33% is much higher than the 23% that is average for new cars, which is why the model earns only 3 stars out of 5 for new.

It’s a different story when you look at older models of the Mazda6, 42% of owners reported an issue, just a little bit above the manufacturer average. There are faults, which is unsurprising as they are older models, but there were no breakdowns reported during the 12 months prior to the consumer report being published. Even repair times are impressive with the time the vehicles required in a garage proving to be less than the average for other vehicles of this age.

Mazda6 Saloon

The issues that were reported were, for the most part, considered insignificant, with 5% of owners experiencing minor issues with the Emissions Control System, and others reporting faults with the mechanical braking system, air intake and suspension.

There was a recall for a significant fault with the engine management system which affected models made between July 2012 and March 2013. If you are considering purchasing an older model Mazda6 Saloon then it is vital you ensure this particular fault has been repaired.

Ignoring this recall, which was handled swiftly by Mazda (which is a definite feather in their cap), the older Mazda6 performs well enough that it earned an impressive 4 stars out of 5 according to Which? Consumer Report participants.

Mazda6 Tourer

The Mazda6 Tourer is the biggest black mark against a brand that otherwise performs incredibly well across the board.

When asked, 34% of owners who had a new model of the model (0-3 years old) reported that they had issues, with an unfortunate 6% having experienced faults so bad they were unable to drive their car. Luckily, even though there were a high number of faults and a large proportion of owners who had to take their car in for repairs, repairs did not take long. Mazda seems to have mastered the ability to produce vehicles that, when they do experience faults, don’t take very long to repair.

The most common issues reported by drivers that responded to the consumer survey were non-engine electrics (19%), electric window failures (13%) and emissions issues (6%).

It is for this reason that newer models of the Mazda6 Tourer were given 3 stars out of 5.

Mazda6 Tourer

When you start to look at the older models of the Tourer (3-8 years) the biggest issues with the car come to light. As with most items, when they age, the problems can start occurring and the Tourer is no different. 63% of owners needed to take their cars in for repairs, this is close to double the 36% average for older cars.

Many issues were reported relating to the Mazda6 Tourer, though by far the most serious, which affected 8% of owners, was a problem with the mechanical braking system.

It is for this reason, and multiple others, that Which? Awarded the older model Mazda6 Tourer 2 stars out of 5 and it is also the reason why we placed this vehicle on our least reliable list.

The bigger issues related to the Mazda6 Tourer don’t surface until the vehicle is over 3 years of age, which is why you should consider leasing if you are thinking about this vehicle. It is stylish, spacious and has a considerable amount of space for a larger family. If you are looking to avoid the expense of repairs related to this model, then an option would be to add a maintenance pack onto your lease, which will save you from the expenses associated with repairs.

If you would like to talk to a Vehicle Specialist at OSV about leasing a Mazda6 Tourer or any of the other vehicles in this article, please contact us on 01903 538835.

How reliable is the Mazda MX-5?

The Mazda MX-5 is the crown jewel of the company. In the US this whizzy little convertible is known as the Miata and was once the dream car of newly licenced drivers everywhere. A record breaking convertible (it legitimately appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records as the global best-selling convertible 2-seater sports car). It was first released onto the market in 1989 and is currently in its fourth generation.

Looking at the various reliability charts that have been released the MX-5 performs incredibly well across the board, appearing in the top 25 reliable vehicles according to ReliabilityIndex, in the top 10 for coupes, convertibles and sportscars in the WhatCar reliability survey and according to Which? the Maxda MX-5 is the overall most reliable new vehicle in their 2020 consumer report.

If you’re looking for a sleek, stylish two-seater convertible, then the MX-5 should be somewhere on your list.

When ReliabilityIndex collated the data from Warranty Direct, the 2-seater came out on top with incredibly impressive results. The total score for the MX-5 is a fantastic 18, which puts it in 15th place in the top 100 reliable vehicles of 2020. Not only is the car incredibly reliable, but with average repair costs setting you back only just over £200 and off the road time less than two and a quarter hours, if something does go wrong you’re not going to be spending weeks without your car and your wallet won’t be badly hit, which is reassuring and unusual when it comes to convertibles.

That’s not to say that nothing can go wrong, there are a few areas that can be a little problematic, including the axle and suspension (30%), the braking system (26.67%), the electrical system (13.3%) and the engine (13.3%).

Mazda MX-5

As we’ve already mentioned, according to Which?, the Mazda MX-5 is the best-selling and most reliable new vehicle on their list. Owners of this car that participated in the consumer survey for 2020 said that it’s not only a reliable sports car, it’s one of the most reliable vehicles on the market.

A staggeringly low 3% of owners reported that they had an issue with their newer MX-5 and, even better, if they did end up experiencing a fault it didn’t render the vehicle undrivable.

Unfortunately, according to the experiences of drivers who participated in the data-gathering process, repairs for any issues took a little longer than other Mazdas reviewed.

No one reported that they had needed their newer MX-5 to be towed to a garage, and once you get past the possible issues with the convertible roof there were no other problems that appeared frequently enough on the reports to be consistent faults that would lower the rating from 5 stars out of 5.

Older models don’t perform quite as well as the newer ones, but the fault is still incredibly impressive at 20%, which is 16% lower than the average for cars between 3 and 8 years old (36%).

The most common issue that was reported was with the convertible roof, 4% mentioned this was the key issue they reported. Other faults that owners mentioned were minor quibbles that they had with minor engine electrics.

Mazda also made one recall for the MX-5 that was for a minor issue that only some drivers ended up taking up the repair offer for.

It is for this reason that Mazda MX-5s that are between 3 and 8 years old (this is the older category age range as used by Which?) was awarded a still impressive 4 stars out of 5.

Why is Mazda reliable?

There are a few reasons why Mazda is considered a dependable brand.

One of these reasons is because repair costs are low even on the less reliable models in their range. The lower the cost for repairs, the better the reliability score.

Mazda isn’t a low-quality vehicle, however, the cars are produced using affordable and easy-to-source parts that are therefore, low-cost to replace. This also contributes to the lower cost for repairs.

As you can see from the vehicles individually reviewed in this article, Mazda models spend less time off the road when they have a fault. This is another factor that ensures the reliability score of the models is higher. This is also aided by the fact that the parts needed for repair are much easier to come by than parts for some of the equivalent German cars.

Should I buy, lease or hire a Mazda?

Reliability results for Mazda are incredibly encouraging, even for older models. However, as you can see, faults do crop up when the vehicles get a little older.

This is why hiring or leasing a Mazda could be a great advantage, especially if you’re looking to get a Mazda6 or Mazda CX-5.

If you’re concerned about the cost of repairs, though the low cost of Mazda repairs is a well-known reason for their reliability, then the addition of a maintenance pack to your lease would reduce that concern considerably.

Ultimately, it is up to you to determine what factors you believe to be the most important when you come to purchase, lease or hire your new vehicle.

At OSV we are here to help you find the vehicle that meets your requirements. If you would like to speak with one of our vehicle experts, call us on 01903 538835.

Conclusion: How reliable is Mazda?

As you can see, Mazda is one of the most reliable manufacturers, whether you’re looking for a sleek convertible, or a family car with plenty of space, you can’t go wrong with the cars they produce.

There are a few common faults that appear across multiple models, but overall, these issues aren’t expensive to fix and nor do they mean you’ll be without a car for a considerable period of time, which is a huge bonus when you rely on your vehicle whether for work, errands or because you live somewhere without public transport provision.

Mazda MX-30

Mazda has 7 different models available, including the MX-30, the brand’s newly released hatchback EV with free-style doors giving it a modern and open design, which means you have a few to choose from whether you want a sleek-lined saloon or a sturdy SUV.

Citations

  • Statista
  • Auto Express
  • Which?
  • ReliabilityIndex – website went offline in December 2020
  • Carlogos.org
  • Cayman Autos
  • MotorEasy
  • Mazda corporate website
  • WhatCar?
  • SMMT

Data in this article is accurate as of 3rd December 2020.

THINKING ABOUT A NEW MAZDA?

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Rachel Richardson
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11 Comments

  • John Armin| 21st September 2020 at 5:08 pm Reply

    Owned 3 new Mazda 3 diesels, all over 100 K miles, nothing has gone wrong with any of them

  • Yani| 2nd September 2020 at 3:51 pm Reply

    I have owned two Mazdas. A Mazda 3, 2015 model which was excellent and superb to drive. Had this for three years & 25,000 miles with no issues. I now have an MX5 RF, 2018 with 15,000 miles. Had only one issue with this. The alloy lacquer began to show signs of wear. Had all 4 wheels replaced by the dealer. This is a car you just want to keep driving. It is just so much fun. There has been gearbox issues according to the forums but so far I have been trouble free.

  • Phil| 24th January 2020 at 7:08 am Reply

    I own a Mazda 6(Sport). It has had recurrent problems. It has been back to the dealers every 10k miles for major repairs. At 12K miles major engine problems. Needed a rebuild. At24k transmission problems. The list is endless. The old Mazdas were much more reliable. The new ones are shite.

  • Stephen| 19th January 2020 at 9:06 pm Reply

    Hi team. I have read reviews on Mazda but I am yet to be convinced about it’s reliability. I own a Mazda 626 and it’s been one problem or the other. Transmission is problematic- jerks, and delays in switching gears. Suspension and axles are problematic and it feels too heavy and doesn’t lift or drive as expected.

  • J Hancock| 30th October 2019 at 6:49 pm Reply

    OIl dilution is the major problem with the Mazda 6 2.2 diesel. Impossible to reach the 12.5k miles before oil
    level reaches the danger level.

    • Rachel Richardson| 4th November 2019 at 9:13 am Reply

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your comment regarding issues you have experienced with the Mazda6. We are in the process of updating all our reliability articles and will be ensuring we include all issues that owners could have that would affect their driving experience.

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